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SEARCH - Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households in Vermont and New Hampshire


What does this program do?

This program helps very small, financially distressed rural communities with predevelopment feasibility studies, design and technical assistance on proposed water and waste disposal projects.

Who may apply?

  • Most state and local governmental entities
  • Nonprofits
  • Federally recognized tribes

What is an eligible area?

Areas to be served must be rural and financially distressed:

  • Rural areas with a population of 2,500 or less
  • Have a median household income below the poverty line or less than 80 percent of the statewide non-metropolitan median household income based on latest Census data

How may the funds be used?

To pay predevelopment planning costs, including:

  • Feasibility studies to support applications for funding water or waste disposal projects
  • Preliminary design and engineering analysis
  • Technical assistance for the development of an application for financial assistance

Are there additional requirements?

The predevelopment planning costs must be related to a proposed project that meets the following requirements:

  • Construct, enlarge, extend or improve rural water, sanitary sewage, solid waste disposal and storm wastewater disposal facilities
  • Construct or relocate public buildings, roads, bridges, fences or utilities, and to make other public improvements necessary for the successful operation or protection of facilities
  • Relocate private buildings, roads, bridges, fences, or utilities, and other private improvements necessary for the successful operation or protection of facilities

How do we get started?

  • Applications for this program are accepted year round through your local RD office.
  • Program resources are available online (i.e., forms, guidance, certifications, etc.).

What governs this program?

  • Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7, Part 1774 - 7 CFR 1774
  • Section 306 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act

Why does USDA Rural Development do this?

To help very small, financially distressed rural communities extend and improve water and waste treatment facilities that serve local households and businesses.

2022 Vermont and New Hampshire Application Cycle

State Pool Deadlines (competitive):

  • Grant applications received until – December 17, 2021

National Pool Deadlines (more competitive):

  • Grant applications received until – April 15, 2022

The Vermont/ New Hampshire jurisdiction strongly encourages the use of RD APPLY our new electronic intake system.  PPGs are limited to the maximum of $25,000 or 75% of total project costs, whichever is less.  SEARCH limited to maximum of $30,000 with no match required (Fact Sheet)A complete online application will also include the uploading of the following documents on RD Apply:
  • Draft Engineering Agreement
  • For non-profit corporations, please also attach: Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws and Secretary of State Standing.
  • Audited Financial Statements (one year for municipal entities, three years for non-profit corporations)
  • Notice of intent to file application. See the directions for Public Informational Meeting.
Other considerations:
  • If you have not already secured a DUNS number (Data Universal Numbering System), you will as part of applying for this grant. This is a unique nine-character identification number assigned by the commercial company Dun & Bradstreet. There is no charge for this number and you can receive it immediately by calling 1-800-333-0505 or 1-800-234-3867 or 1-800-705-5711
  • Once you have secured your DUNS number, you will need to register on SAM (System for Award Management). See the Directions for SAM Registration.​​

Grant Eligibility: Eligibility is dependent on population size and area income. Contact your area specialist with questions about your community's eligibility.

NOTE: Please select your state in the dropdown menu above to find the state office contact information and speak to a program specialist before attempting to fill out any forms or applications. This will save you time in completing your application.

National Architect Requirements:

There are no other architect, engineering or environmental requirements at the national level. If there are additional state-specific requirements they will be listed above. 

There are no other additional requirements at the national level. If there are additional state-specific requirements they will be listed above.

Rebecca Schrader, Lead Community Programs Specialist
87 State Street, Suite 324
P.O. Box 249
Montpelier, VT 05601
Phone: (802) 828-6032
Fax: (855) 794-3680

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